STARTING Monday, March 15, 2021, traditional public utility jeepneys (TPUJ) from the neighboring city of Mandaue will be allowed to enter Cebu City.
Mayor Edgardo Labella told reporters he already approved the recommendation of the City’s Jeepney Task Force and is set to release an executive order on Friday, March 12.
Labella said the entry of TPUJs from other local government units (LGUs) will help augment transportation facilities in the city, especially with more commuters needing rides now that several businesses have reopened.
This will also help drivers revive their livelihood, Labella said.
Labella said drivers have to strictly implement health protocols in their TPUJ units or face sanctions such as a stop to the operations of inter-city TPUJ units.
Loreto Geres, president of the Mandaue Transportation Cooperative, said he was grateful that their pleas had been heard and they can finally cross borders.
TPUJ drivers in Mandaue began to operate again in December 2020, but they were allowed only within the city.
Geres said this resulted in shorter routes, fewer passengers and lost income.
Geres said earnings were barely enough to feed their families as they still had to pay the P500 rental for the TPUJ unit.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, TPUJ rentals were pegged at P800 to P1,000.
Because health protocols dictate physical distancing, the lower seat capacity, fewer passengers and lower income prompted most of their members to cease operations, said Geres.
Out of 105 units under the Cooperative, only 20 are running, he added.
For his part, Greg Perez, chairman of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (Piston) Cebu, said now that their members can ply Cebu City again, it will be a big help to them.
Out of 300 Piston members in Mandaue City, only a little over 10 TPUJs are back in operation so far.
Perez said most of their members have gone home to their provinces, while some are now working as drivers of buses and private companies.
Perez appealed to LGUs and transportation agencies to ease requirements for the TPUJs as most of their members could not pass the strict inspection standards.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) 7 Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said they will gradually pull out the 172 existing public utility buses (PUBs) servicing Cebu City roads.
But this would depend on the number of TPUJs that will pass the roadworthiness inspection — a requirement prior to the issuance of a special permit to operate in the City.
Based on the LTFRB 7’s record, out of the 3,200 slots allocated, only 500 were issued special permits.
Montealto announced that the deadline for the consolidation of TPUJ operators into a corporation or cooperative as a requirement for subsidy is March 31.
He said those who cannot consolidate after the deadline will be given provisional authority for a year or until April 1, 2022.
Meanwhile, the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) said TPUJs and other vehicles that use the city’s bike lanes won’t be apprehended as these are shared lanes.
Paul Gotiong, CCTO information officer, said while bicycles will be prioritized, other vehicles can pass through these lanes.
“Since it is a shared lane, the challenge for CCTO is basically the vehicles stopping or parking in these areas,” said Gotiong.
Gotiong reminded TPUJ drivers to use only designated stops to help prevent traffic congestion.
The CCTO also reminded commuters to wait only at the designated stops and observe social distancing. (JJL, KFD, WBS)